Saturday, March 17, 2018

March 17 – “On Maewyn Succat”

OK.  This is actually a blog post on St. Patrick.  Well, why not?  My name is Kelley, after all, which was my mother’s maiden name, so it is a family surname.  Yep.  I’ve got some serious Irish in my blood, so I have to know a little bit about my roots.  And St. Patrick is Ireland’s patron saint.  He spread Christianity all through the country back in the 5th century.

So, this guy St. Patrick was actually born Maewyn Succat in Britain around 386 A.D.  He took on the name Patrick later after he got really involved in his Christian work.  We really don’t know all that much about him, though.  His father and grandfather were apparently both members of the clergy, but he wasn’t raised with a strong emphasis on religion.  I know.  Sounds weird, right?  His parents didn’t even stress education all that much either.  That kind of embarrassed him later in his life. 

When he was 16 years old he was captured by Irish pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland.  His job was to tend sheep.  His owner was a high priest of Druidism, the sect of paganism that had huge influence over the country at that time.  Strangely enough, during his six years as a slave Patrick became more and more devoted to Christianity.  He even had a vision where he saw the children of Ireland reaching out to him.  As a result he grew more and more determined to convert the Irish to Christianity.  His dreams didn’t stop there, though.  In another one he got the idea of escaping, and sur enough, he managed to talk some sailors into letting him get onboard their ship.  Problem was, after three days of sailing they had to abandon ship somewhere near France, and wandered around lost for almost a month.  In that month they covered almost 200 miles of territory, and Patrick was eventually reunited with his family.

Patrick next went back to France, this time to study and enter the priesthood.  He always wanted to return to Ireland, and in 432 he was commissioned as a missionary to Ireland.  After some initial resistance, he and his fellow missionaries finally made significant inroads into the country through preaching, writing, and performing countless baptisms.  One of Patrick’s strengths came in his ability to recognize spiritual practices already in place, and incorporate the nature-oriented pagan rituals into church practices.  Many believe that it was Patrick who introduced the Celtic cross that combines the native symbolism involving sun worship with the Christian cross. 

OK.  Here is the part you were wondering about.  There have been many legends that are associated with his life as well.  One is that he introduced the idea of the Holy Trinity in his teaching by using the three-leaved shamrock.  Pretty ingenious, if you ask me.  Of course that part of the teaching got lost in the mix and now it is just seen as a symbol of good luck.  And of course, the best known legend is that of St. Patrick driving away all the snakes from the country.  I always wondered his he managed that one. 

So St. Patrick’s day is March 17th, the traditional date of his death.  The traditional way to celebrate the religious holiday is to attend church in the morning, and then head out to a traditional meal of cabbage and Irish bacon.  Can’t beat bacon.  Of course, like so many originally religious holidays, St. Patrick’s Day in the West has become more of a cultural, secular celebration of culture and heritage … all things Irish.

Top o’ the mornin’ to ye!

Psalms 37:28 says, “For the Lord loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones.”

Father, thank you for guys like young Maewyn, who overcame some significant hurdles to follow you.  Inspiring stuff.  Amen.

Friday, March 16, 2018

March 16 – “Snippets”

Ah, March Madness is finally in full swing.  My second favorite time for sports (Following a distant second behind the Astros, of course).  I have been able to watch snippets of several games since the tournament started.  Well, some snippets have been longer snippets than other snippets.  And Chris would probably say all the snippets have been way too long … for snippets.  The Red Raiders (Texas Tech University) and the Cougars (University of Houston) have already won a game.  There is a full slate of games starting around eleven today.  The Aggies (Texas A&M).  The Longhorns (University of Texas).  The Horned Frogs (Texas Christian University).  The Tigers (Texas Southern University).  Sensing a pattern here?  Lots of Texas schools on tap today.  And tomorrow starts the second round, so things should start to get really interesting.  I predict my snippets may get a bit longer, Chris.  Sorry.

We planted the first of Chris’ new supply of plants yesterday.  Two azalea bushes will now try to establish themselves in a battle with an oleander tree for water and nutrients in a corner of the backyard.  The original site planned for them has now been reserved for some knockout roses … yet to be obtained knockout roses.  It looks like there will be two of them battling each other (I assume that’s what knockout roses do.  Why else would they be called “knockout” roses?) next to the bird bath.  A new plan has arisen for the renegade oleanders that sprang up in the front flower bed.  They are destined to be replanted on the other side of the house to take the spot of the two Mexican oleanders that succumbed to the freeze.  It will be interesting to see if they survive or if the neighbor’s yard guys mow ‘em down. 

Great visit with the fire fighters and the administrators down at the central fire station yesterday.  The chief showed me the progress on the new station being built.  It is an exciting venture, for sure.  Dirt work is just about complete, and they are measuring for electrical conduit and plumbing lines.  Shouldn’t be long before the concrete will be set and walls will start to rise.  Keep an eye on that project.  It will be a great addition to the downtown fingerprint.

Psalms 37:25-26 says, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.  They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.”

Father, thank you for basketball and bushes and excited fire chiefs.  Amen.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March 15 – “The Growing Things”

Heavy duty work day at the computer yesterday.  Didn’t see much of the outside world until sometime in the afternoon.  On the plus side, I got a lot done toward the teaching for Sunday, always a plus for a Tuesday.  I finished up writing the service for a memorial coming up on Saturday.  Even got the master song booklet written for our Easter Sunrise service.  That needs to get to the printer by next week sometime.  I finally made contact with the bee guy.  He is trying to get us on his schedule as soon as possible.  The hive at the church is steadily growing again.  No idea how many we have this year.  I’m hoping he gives us the honey again, though.  We already have people chomping at the bit to buy some. 

We did venture away from the house for a bit.  Chris wanted to make a flower run.  Spring has hit and she can barely contain herself.  She loves working in her flower beds.  That and our new neighbors have been working in their flower beds all week.  WalMart didn’t really have what she wanted (but we did get some coffee filters.  Can’t fall behind on those things.  Oh, and it is Spring Break week, so there were plenty of people to watch.  Lots of fun for me).  So we headed out to Home Depot.  I grabbed a cart to lean on and watch as we roamed around and around and around the garden section.  I counted four complete trips, circling around the very first set of plants that she looked at.  They were the exact ones she came to buy, but you can’t just see what is on your list, pick it up, buy it, and head home.  There are certain (perhaps female?) nuances of shopping that have to come into play, I suppose.  She finally cornered those first flowers she saw, along with a few others (including a few azalea bushes) and some dirt, and we made the purchase.  No planting until today, though.  Gotta flex my farmer muscles …

Psalms 37:23-24 says, “If the Lord delights in a man's way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

Father, thank you for the growing things you created.  They really make my wife happy.  Amen.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

March 14 – “The song”

It was time to leave the library.  The snake exhibition had long since ended.  The allure of the large lizard that lives in the children’s section had passed.  Books to take home had been collected, checked out, and properly deposited in Mom’s large satchel.  Mom and Nana and four brothers were lining up near the door to head for the car.  But where was Noa?

No, there wasn’t a frantic search throughout the aisles of books, although that would have been kind of fun – a real adventure.  But in this case Noa wasn’t lost.  In fact she hadn’t moved from the spot she had deposited herself about twenty minutes before … in front of one of the library children’s program computers.  For a while there had been three little girls occupying that space, but gradually the number dwindled until Noa had the screen to herself.  And now she was totally engrossed in a particularly interesting program.  She was baking virtual cookies. 

I was the first to arrive on scene, so I made the formal announcement that it was time to depart.  Apparently my pronouncement didn’t sound too convincing, however.  She continued.  Break an egg into the bowl.  Break another egg into the bowl.  Break a third egg into the bowl.  I have to admit, by this time I was as mesmerized as she was.  Flour.  Oil.  Vanilla.  It was all there.  Time to stir it up, and the curser became a mixer.  Miraculously, the mixed up ingredients became batter for the cookies.  Now, all the while Noa is happily humming a tune, totally oblivious to the world around her.  A click on the mouse and choices of cookie cutters popped up.  She chose the squirrel.  I expected her to make a whole batch of squirrel cookies.  I was, by this time getting hungry.  But not Noa.  She chose to make one huge squirrel cookie.  More humming as she moved the cookie batter squirrel into the virtual oven.  I was fascinated.  And in mere seconds out popped a cookie squirrel. 

But the chef was not done yet.  She immediately switched into icing mode.  Now who am I to stop icing mode?  You gotta have icing.  She spread a layer of white icing all over the cookie, humming along.  Next she switched to a tube of decorative icing - red, of course.  And she started placing polka-dots all over the squirrel.  At least that’s what I would have called them had I not been listening to the song coming from her sweet, innocent little lips.  What was she singing?  “The squirrel has the plague.  The squirrel has the plague.”  Well, OK.  I think it’s time to go now, Noa.

Psalms 37:16-17 says, “Better the little that the righteous have than the wealth of many wicked; for the power of the wicked will be broken, but the Lord upholds the righteous.”

Father, thank you for Noa’s love of books and computers.  Oh, and snakes.  Have to include snakes since she wants one for Christmas now.  Amen.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

March 13 – “Real, slimy, squirmy snakes”

I dove into work yesterday.  Typical Monday.  Not that it was an easy task.  The sky was still dark.  The wind was whipping at a 20 miles per hour rate.  The temperature hovered around 54 degrees, with a wind chill of 48.  All in all a bitter cold winter day in Galveston.  When Chris woke up she entered the office and even before she said, “Good morning,” she announced that she was turning on the heater.  Not such a great start to Spring Break.  In fact, even the newspaper headlines this morning read: “Spring brrrr-eak.” I don’t think it will stop the hordes of tourists, though.  Bring ‘em on.

I forced myself to go to the class I signed up for.  The one that’s supposed to be on planning your will and the like.   Thus far it has been all about financial planning and investing.  Yawn.  Yesterday was a little different.  Well, it was more of the same, only more so.  In fact they began speaking in a different language.  I understood a few words every now and then, but I don’t do well being immersed in a different culture when I don’t know the language at all.  I did manage to uncover a major part of the plot to confuse me.  Apparently this was the second part of the class.  A vast majority of the people there had already been through the class before, and most of the rest already knew the language, so the teacher was moving on at their level.  I for one do not know how to speak Financial.  Never have had a desire of any kind to learn the language.  Give me Greek any day.  And here’s the confession part … I ditched the second half of class during the break.  Never had the guts to do that when I was in real school.  Kind of exhilarating, actually.  Um, I mean, don’t try this at home, kids.

On a lighter note, we went to a program at the library with Christina and the kids.  Snakes.  Yep.  Real, slimy, squirmy snakes.  And when the guy asked for adult volunteers, guess who jumped at the chance?  No, not Chris.  She is firmly in the camp that there was a reason Satan took the form of a snake, and he is probably still in there somewhere.  She and the lady next to her were doing their best to hide behind each other.  I joined several others as station monitors for the children to meet five or six different breeds of snake.  And by “station monitor” I mean, we each held one of the snakes while the kids came over to pet them.  I had Jeremy, an albino rat snake.  Beautiful critter.  He even enjoyed wrapping himself around my neck and giving me a hug.  Not sure I’ll repeat that feat any time soon.  Many of the kids jumped at the chance to pet and even hold the snakes.  In fact one of the first ones to my station was none other than my four year old granddaughter Noa.  She immediately held out her hands to let Jeremy squirm around a while.  Her older brothers?  Yeah, not so much.  They all took a giant step backwards when the snakes came anywhere near them.  Best part of the day?  Chris was holding Ezra in her lap, and he reached for the snake.  She handed Micah her phone to take a picture.  Jeremy did his snake thing and slithered through Ezra’s hands and down his side and around his waist toward his back.  Only thing was, “his back” meant that the snake was actually touching Chris’s body.  Suddenly and inexplicably it became time for the snake to return to his handler.  Can’t have poor little Ezra getting scared now, can we?  By the way, Micah got some really good pictures of Chris – er, I mean Ezra, of course – cuddling with the snake. 

Psalms 37:11 says, “But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.”

Father, thank you for all of your creatures.  Even snakes.  Amen.

Monday, March 12, 2018

March 12 – “Transformations”

It was a really good day at church yesterday.  Not just because of the great group of people or the good singing.  Both during and after the service I had a chance to talk one on one with three different people who were asking about getting baptized on Easter Sunday at our sunrise service.  The first one came to me during our encouragement time.  She has recently been attending with the influx of new folks from the Sea Isle community.  As we talked I found out that she is a transplant recipient who was mere hours away from death when a new liver became available to her.  Since that experience and her successful surgery, she has seen her life radically transformed into one that not only acknowledges Jesus, but celebrates him.  She now embraces the intimacy she has with Jesus every day.  It will be really exciting to baptize her.  And after she headed back to find her seat, her husband came over to me.  He and I have talked before about fishing and the like, so that’s what I expected.  Not so this time.  Seems he also wants to be baptized.  His wife’s transformation has had a lot to do with his decision, and he is also quite excited.  Finally a young man in his twenties came to me after service to talk about baptism.  He was very clear about his relationship with Jesus.  He even pointed back to a specific day in January when he gave his life to Jesus, and he has been growing ever since.  He recently moved to Galveston, so his baptism will truly be the capstone of a new start for him.  That, folks, is an exciting day at Seaside.

After church a group of us went to Salsa’s for lunch.  We barely beat the Spring Break lunch crowd and got a table right away.  And as we walked toward the table, who should we see but Mike and Cindy Bell, munching on a meal of their own.  Mike was youth pastor at Seaside for many years before they moved to League City.  Lots of hugs and grins all around …

And when we got home, we made our way across the street to check out things at the Geran household.  They are the new neighbors we helped move in on Saturday.  They had made some incredible progress toward getting all that furniture unwrapped and placed throughout the house.  Bryan and Jennifer stopped by as well.  They were delivering a vacuum cleaner.  And since we had some extra brute strength availability (that would be Bryan and Corey’s Dad, not me), we managed to lift a few of the heavy top pieces to finish out the furniture placement.  The house is looking really good.  Almost transformed into a home.  But not yet.  TV isn’t in yet …

Psalms 37:8 says, “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret — it leads only to evil.”

Father, thank you for all the progress the Geran’s have made on their house.  And a huge thank you for the changed lives from Sunday.  Transformations are hard work, but they sure are fun.  Amen.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

March 11 – “It’s in German”

We didn’t work in the yard yesterday.  Want to know why?  Well, remember I mentioned yesterday that I helped Chris finish cleaning out the last flower bed in the backyard?  Great team, we are.  Come see our backyard some time.  Well, after said exertion, I for one was extremely sore.  Yep.  Sore in every squat muscle you can imagine.  In my legs.  In my ankles.  In my knees.  In my stomach.  But most especially in my posterior regions.  It was painful to even sit down.  So I walked around the house a lot.

I did get some real exercise, though.  Our new across the street neighbors and fellow Seasiders, the Gerans,  began moving in.  We watched as the big U-Haul pulled up.  Then pulled out.  Then backed up, then pulled out.  It took her a while, but Janell finally got that monster into position to unload.  As entertaining as it was to be the nosey neighbor and just watch the excitement out our front window, we had to do the neighborly thing.  And the Christian thing.  And the church member thing.  And the friend thing.  That’s a lot of reasons to help someone unload their U-Haul.  So I U-hauled my sore backside on across the street and dove right in.

I do appreciate Corey watching out for me lifting too much.  I tend to get over-zealous when I get started at something like this.  In fact I was having fun, because the items had been packaged in Europe, and each was labeled … in German.  So to be helpful I read aloud what each piece was (Not that I had any idea what I was reading).  Corey, however, mentioned a certain miniscule weight lift limit that had been imposed upon me by the doctor.  Ah, the trials of helping someone who knows so much about you.  He told me he didn’t want to get into trouble with MamaChris by being responsible for me getting hurt.  I told him, “Don’t worry.  She doesn’t even know where I am.”  And of course, just as the words came out of my mouth, who should walk around behind the U-Haul to see what she could do to help?  Yep.  Busted. 

We did get it done, though.  Well, we had to call in reinforcements for the final piece of furniture.  It was an utter beast of a top piece to a china cabinet or something.  Extremely heavy.  So Chris made a phone call and Nathan came over on his scooter to save the day.  So that load of furniture is officially inside.  They still have to unwrap it and place it all, though, so they are not moved in by any means.  They also have quite a bit of other stuff to bring over from their other house.  We are well on the way to having some more new neighbors.

Psalms 37:7 says, “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him”

Father, bless our new neighbors.  Give them strength as they finish the moving of their stuff.  Amen.